Meine Reise nach Berlin!

22.3.17-25.3.17

Me and my fabulous friend Ellie have holidayed together many times. Our first excursion was to Amsterdam with some other friends of ours (or it could have been Poland first; I forget!) and then almost straight on to Poland, for the Heineken Open’er festival in Gdynia (Errr-mazing!). I mean it cost like £100 and we saw Rihanna and Arctic Monkeys and, like, we could have seen Kings of Leon but decided not to because they are crap. We met at university and fell in platonic love. From then on we’ve had city-breaks in Dublin, Oslo, and most recently Berlin: can I fill you in?

First of all, I’ve worked for Aldi, soooooooo I know a thing or two about this so-called ‘German efficiency’. Aldi is cheap. We know that. In all honesty, Berlin is one of *the* cheapest capital cities I have ever been to, hands down. I’ve not been to all the capital cities ever but I would approximate that I have visited 12.  Normally they’re pretty pricey, especially in the developed West. However, I didn’t feel priced out of activities, food and drink or transport whilst in Berlin. So, well done, Krauts!

They are indeed efficient. The trains run on-time and you’re never waiting long to be served. The very best thing they do is they bring your drinks to you :O No queuing, no barging chancers out of the way at the bar, no ‘garcon!’ *clicks fingers impatiently* (like I would..!). Oh no, none of that! A friendly person, normally a woman- such is the service industry- comes and takes your glass, asks if you will be requiring another beverage (I will require several beverages, fräulein) and brings it over to you, no fuss! Which reminds me: before I forget, STEINS. At risk of sounding quite hyperbolic, beer steins are the best thing about Germany. It just feels right.

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Like many other European capitals, the graffiti is on point in Berlin. British graffiti seems a bit shite in comparison. Perhaps we are just lazy, and as a result less creative on the day-to-day?

We stayed at the EasyHotel (that’s right, just like ‘EasyJet’) in the central area of the city, Mitte, with excellent transport links and within walking distance of the main station at Alexanderplatz. On Ellie’s list of ‘things to do’, which she had compiled using various travel blogs, was ‘Kreuzburger’, a frankly amazing burger joint which we thought we would find only in the hipster Kreuzberg area. However, there was quite fortuitously a ‘Kreuzburger’ on our street, literally 5 establishments down the road. Being vegetarian, I ordered a tofu burger, which I think was a mere €4.50; by jingo! It was hugea massive slab of tofu placed somewhat indelicately betwixt two rather large buns. Definitely worth every cent! I mean it doesn’t cost much less than that for a block of tofu… madness.

Working against chronological order, the first place we visited, before we had reached the hotel and which was situated right in the centre of Berlin outside the station, was a department store, ‘Galleria’. Famished, desperate for sustenance and exhausted from our early start, we slumped through the doors, hoping beyond hope that there would be some sort of hot, above-standard food; this looked like a fancy place, after all! Lo, we found such food, after seconds of wandering! It was this mad, kinda-fancy café at the back of the food hall, that served food from three menus- Thai, Italian, and, erm, standard cafeteria food- and of course, me being greedy me, I ordered from both the Italian and Thai menus (we ate it all). It was just delicious. Really, it was an amazing start to our trip, and set the precedent for the rest of our culinary experiences. I do have a picture, although it is shoddy quality due to hopeless lack of care towards cellular phones and their specs.

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Definitely dodgy quality going on here… not of the food though, Christ, this place was like a fuckin’ palace compared to Harvey Frasier’s or w/e

Gotta give the Berlin underground a shout-out. You can travel for free pretty much, however we saw the ticket inspectors from the safety of the carriage and there were a job-lot of them, so be wary! Travelling on the Metrolink and with Northern Rail, you wouldn’t think we were in the same continent! Our public transport is an absolute shambles, especially considering it’s at least double the price of the transport we used over in Berlin. In fact, the trains in Poland were better than the shite we get lumbered with over here. Anyway, I didn’t come here to talk about the state of public transport, except to say that in Germany, it seems to be very good.

Even the beggars are polite! Go to France, JE-SUS they will literally shove their wounded limbs into your face for change! but no, in Berlin they just politely walk on, much like our own beggars, but much more quiet. The streets there are clean as fuck, which comes as a shock for a northerner, all that wading through crap because the council forgot to pay anybody to empty the bins… None of that in Berlin!

I can see I’ve taken a turn for the worse here; let me steer us back onto a sensible path. Some low-quality pictures of landmarks, perhaps?

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A (rather blurry) view from the top of The Fernsehturm

 

 

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‘To Fence in the Berlin Wall of all Places…’

Being cool AS. FUCK. we obviously visited the East Side Gallery and pretended to care deeply about… issues and stuff. I wore a lilac bomber jacket to show solidarity amongst my fellow hipsters, aaaaaaand Ellie isn’t quite as fickle so she just dressed modestly but with that Scandi-style edge.

Jokes, we went for real to actually look solemnly upon the messages artists and regular bods had painted upon the gallery walls, often in painstaking detail and always wonderfully bright and really just magnificent. That particular image, I thought, was great, because I’m a sarcastic satirist myself most of the time. But it doesn’t do any harm to think about the ways we are all fenced in, moreover the fences we as a society build in an attempt to feel safe (getting real deep here guys).

There was probably loads of other stuff we wanted to do, and Ellie really had researched the shit out of Berlin. She took me to this wonderful market in the trendy Kreuzberg area, but I didn’t take any pictures because it was rammed and I had decided by that point that my phone was too shit to take any more pictures. You are probably asking, ‘what research did you do, Africa? Where did you want to go?’. Admittedly, I did no research, other than asking my friend, who also happens to be a beer connoisseur, which bars I must visit to get my lips around a cracking craft ale.

The beer was very good in general, as you’d expect, but… I wanted some proper fresh, craft ale. So I went and got some! My absolute favourite bar by far was named Monterey Bar, in the Winsviertel area just north-east of central Berlin. The atmosphere was lovely, quite dark but cosy. The bartenders were wonderfully friendly, advising me on different beers, especially those NOT to buy. After sampling, I was so glad the American lady who was serving dissuaded me from purchasing an awful flavoured beer. I sat alone and read Morrissey’s List of the Lost (which, despite my undying love for Moz, is quite amusingly dreadful) and a local woman who was studying talked to me a bit. All in all, I had a lovely few hours there and would certainly visit again!

Earlier in the day, I found myself at Kaschk, which was also a recommendation of my friend and handily just a few streets down from the hotel. It resembled a craft-beer establishment you might find in Manchester or London: that kind of back-to-basics, we-have-no-money-oh-wait-we-have-fucking-loads-of-money hipster style interior, you know with long wooden tables and benches a bit like a medieval drinking hall but 1,000,000% more expensive. I had a great To Øl brew from there, though sadly I didn’t document the name. The bartender once again, it must be said, was so friendly, smiling and even bringing my drink and vegan banana cake outside to me! Really, I can’t stress enough how polite the Berliners were. So, so friendly.

As well as these gorgeous bottled beers I had the pleasure of sipping at Monterey bar, I also indulged in Yeastie Boys’ Digital IPA, Oskar Blues’ Ten Fidy and Death By Coconut

Okay so I’m going to have to throw in the towel here. I have just spied that I’ve written almost 1,500 words, and mercy me, I am shattered! Rather than lying to myself and saying, ‘No Africa, you are not a person who has short, fruitful bursts of energy, prone to decline, which then descend into fatigue and boredom, until ultimately you reach a peak of apathy from which there will be no return for many days! You are not this wretch, Africa!’, I shall shoow humility and throw my hands above me head in admittance. Like honestly I wanted to update my blog and I had loads of memories from my trip, but now all I can think of is how I chafed so badly that I ripped my favourite jeans 😦 we walked so much, I have loads more to write about. I am tired of using my brain and must desist!

I suppose I’ll conclude with a list of landmarks and tourist attractions followed by extremely succinct reviews:

  • Brandenburg Gate- quite impressive, good free tours in the square
  • Berlin Wall- it’s a must-see, esp. with a cheeky English tourguide
  • Checkpoint Charlie- pretty naff, really
  • Jewish Memorial- don’t go to take pictures of yourself doing yoga u tit
  • Berlin Cathedral- great if you like that kind of thing
  • Altes Museum- literally ‘Old Museum’, beautiful neoclassical architecture
  • Museum Island- not really an island
  • Fernsehturm (TV tower)- really tall, built by commies; definitely visit

 

Auf Wiedersehen, meine freunde!

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My new nemesis, the ram

So it’s lovely here in Littleborough, where I live. Right on the cusp of Greater Manchester, bordering West Yorkshire, it’s a beautiful part of the world. Twenty minutes after walking out of my front door, I can be atop a hill in the Pennines, surveying Rochdale, Manchester and Beetham Tower in the distance. On a clear day, you can even see all the way to Wales!

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Please forgive my dreadful phone and it’s dreadful camera

The Pennines are magnificent! Desolate, curvaceous and unbridled, they  crash like waves in a stormy sea, rolling continuously from the Peak District in the North Midlands through Lancashire and Yorkshire and past the Cumbrian Fells. I feel honoured to have them on my doorstop and would f8 anyone who claimed that there was a trail in the UK (perhaps the world but there I go again, spouting my bias opinions!) more beautiful than the Pennine Way.

Today, it is Wednesday the 8th of March, and at around 13:00 hours I thought I’d go for a walk up to one of the Wind-farms, to see if, up close, they appeared as a blot on the landscape; I have never been sceptical because I like renewable energy sources, but my father hates them. As a matter of fact I find the low drone of the turbines quite relaxing, and it isn’t as loud as you’d think. Anyway, the sun was shining and it was a glorious day for a walk!

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Now, with much of our countryside being farmland, I’m used to passing sheep, and I always take care not to startle them. It’s certainly not lambing season this far north, and anyway, I’ve walked loooaaaads of times with the little lambs frolicking about and being curious- never had a problem! I suppose the ewes are preggers right now, but still… I didn’t expect to run into any trouble.

So, I’m at the wind-turbines, and I don’t suppose many people walk right up to them. I spot a gate in the distance, and I’m in high spirits, as I plan on walking all the way to Hebden Bridge and perhaps I might even ascend the steep hill up to Heptonstall to visit Sylvia Plath’s grave (It is International Women’s Day, after all)

I’m walking, have a nice old time, in awe of the humongous, incongruently quiet turbines, maintaining a non-threatening distance from the sheep… But there’s this ram, see, and he’s not happy. Proper macho little bastard, he starts calling out to his flock, I assumed, as they scarpered out of sight even though they were at least a few hundred metres ahead of me to start with! I’m feeling a bit edgy at this point, because I’ve heard about rams behaving much like human males; aggressive, offensive and totally unreasonable (loljks!). I’m thinking, ‘shit better slope off’. But the prick has only gone and called over two of his bulky, horned mates! Proper thick-set bastards they are, and they’re cutting off my escape route! They start following me as I try to escape; I’m really not keen on running downhill through this lumpy looking field but they cutting off the path. They stop just a few metres ahead of me as I try to assess whether or not they want to gore me to death. They’re staring me down and I can tell they’re agitated so i start giving them the ol’ submissive act, you know getting down low so as to make myself seem smaller, avoiding eye-contact, that sort of thing.

Anyway these rams are having none of it. At this point I’m quite terrified and I realise with horror that, yes, actually these guys do want to gore you to death, Africa. It was fight or flight, and there was no way I was taking three of them on, so I walked as quick as I could in a seemingly aloof manner towards the slope into the field. They’re following me! Shit they are coming at me bro! ‘Holy shit girl,’ I say to myself, ‘You better run!’, and I went like the fucking clappers I can tell you. It was hands down the worst type of field to have to run for your life through; I kept falling into the bogs and I’m really panicking, I’m shaking like a shitting dog. It’s the second time in my life where I have quite honestly thought I might die (third if you count this one time where I had a pain in my bowels so bad that I took my phone to the toilet in case I had to say goodbye to my loved ones)

My Adidas leggings are covered in bog-water that smells like egg and poo. I glance back quickly; oh FFS, it looks like they’ve nominated one to chase me down. the fluffy bastard is trotting after me with ease as I flail desperately in the fucking quagmire…

So I run and run, and fall, and run, then chant, ‘shitshitshit’ whilst running and falling, and the thought that maybe I need to ring 999 crosses my mind but no, no no the use of both hands is vital in getting the fuck out of here… I struggle on, until, after what feels like 5 minutes has passed but was definitely more like 40 seconds, I glance behind; they’re retreating! Cannot stop though, must keep running until I reach the other side of this bastard swamp, wayyyyyyy out of sight of those rectanglular-pupilled demons.

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I no longer like these creatures.

Once I’m pretty certain that they haven’t arranged to flank me from the sides and gore, butt and trample me to death, I still carry on running because adrenaline. They are way back in the distance, however, so I start to think that maybe I’m not going to die alone in a fucking bog (not that type of bog- I ain’t Elvis). They’re well out of sight and I jump down a small drop into a slightly more reasonable field, a field devoid of sheep, thank goodness. I phone my grandma, partly to relieve my nerves and rationalise the whole ordeal, but mostly so that somebody knows roughly where I am in case they’re plotting a sneak attack or, heaven forbid, I piss off another horned land-torpedo.

Once i’m back on a public bridleway and securely through a big gate, I just laugh; what a fucking ordeal! I mean this is typical me; can’t even go for a relaxing walk without mad shit going down! During my walk I must have stumbled upon some sort of sheep-graveyard, and being an animal-loving vegetarian, I had hoped that the sheep R.I.P’d and wondered whether it was morbid to be so intrigued. As it happens, I now don’t give a flying fuck, and am even planning on adopting the alias ‘Rambo’ when I go and stab every fucking ram in the South Pennines.

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This bastard got what’s coming to him
P.S. I still like ewes and rams and lambs rly

Tim Wonnacott: Style Icon

Yet another ‘pt. 1’ from the most unreliable author on the net!

Now, I’m not the first and I damn-well won’t be the last to write about the glorious, incomparable Timothy Wonnacott. He is my inspiration now and forever, and I promise you I am not even being ironic; I love him, truly. Heck, I’ve watched Bargain Hunt nearly every day for the past two years! Admittedly, my viewing up until then had been rather intermittent since 2003, when Tim famously joined the show following Dicky’s departure (for those of you not in the know, I refer of course to the legendary David Dickinson, though he isn’t a patch on our Tim).

Unless you’re a naturist, clothes are important for a number of reasons. First and foremost, they cover one’s naked flesh, protecting you not only from embarrassment, but from harsh weather conditions too. Secondly, they are an outward expression of the inner self- whether anarchic or drab- from which strangers can gauge what you’re about; not wholly, of course, unless you really are a two-dimensional twat.

Having said that, I must slap myself harshly on the wrist; style isn’t always an indicator of how interesting or multi-layered or other such things a person is. One person who wears trackies is not the same as another, and so on. They are extremely comfortable and not indicative as to whether somebody is a thug. It does get terribly complicated! My father, for example, wears ‘simply M&S’ t-shirts and corduroy trousers and a pair of Clark’s shoes (purchased in the sale, normally) in his down-time -quite uninspiring!- but is actually a highly intelligent and entertaining individual. Conversely, I know a few pointless creeps who dress to impress on the daily, flaunting their ridiculous yet fabulous attire as if they have a personality (they don’t)…

Anyway this is all really aimless chit chat: this post and those that will almost certainly follow concern Tim Wonnacott and his cracking exterior. He is a multi-talented, multifaceted gem and I think it would benefit us all to appreciate the man just for a wee while. Not to mention, it’s an excuse for me to show you the evolution of my style and I might actually update my blog o.0

So yeah… I’m 99% sure that I will get round to elaborating on my style icon within the next 24 hours, so just hang fire! I’m going out for some fat scran and I’m taking my C.Vs to give the impression that I am doing anything conductive…